Planning Commission approves new campground in Roan Mountain

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  County Planning Director Chris Schuettler, left, and Planning Commission Chairman Jerry Pearman listen to a question during Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting. The group voted unanimously, with one abstention, to approve site plans for a new campground in Roan Mountain.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
County Planning Director Chris Schuettler, left, and Planning Commission Chairman Jerry Pearman listen to a question during Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting. The group voted unanimously, with one abstention, to approve site plans for a new campground in Roan Mountain.

Carter County will soon have a new campground — the first new camping location to be developed in the county in six years.
Members of the Carter County Planning Commission voted to approve site plans presented by Steven and Katarina Stevenson for their 11-acre property located on Bob Ray Road in Roan Mountain.
“Bob Ray Road is part of the old 19E that runs along the (Doe) River in an area I call Honeycutt Flats,” Carter County Planning Director Chris Schuettler told members of the Planning Commission during the group’s meeting on Tuesday.
The new campground will feature 17 slots and the Stevensons said they hope to put cabins on the property in the future as well.
“This is the first campground brought before us under then new campground regulations,” Schuettler said.
In April, members of the Carter County Commission approved changing the county’s ordinance dealing with the development of new campgrounds. The previous ordinance regulations were put into place in 2010, but many felt they were too restrictive and discouraged the development of new camping sites.
The changes between the old ordinance and the new one include:
• Space between campsite and nearest adjoining residence is now 200 feet, reduced from 300 feet.
• Minimum required acreage was reduced from four to two.
• Space between campsites was reduced from 50 feet to ten feet.
• The street width is the same, but the gravel depth for parking spaces was reduced from six inches to four inches.
• 20 full-service sites will be allowed per acre or 30 primitive sites, where no primitive sites were previously allowed.
The Stevensons lobbied for the changes to the ordinance, which were first approved by the Planning Commission before they were forwarded to the County Commission. Katarina Stevenson spoke to members of the County Commission during the April meeting and urged them to approve the new regulations.
Schuettler told members of the Planning Commission on Tuesday that he had worked with the Stevensons and reviewed their site plans.
“It meets the criteria of the regulations and the staff recommends approval,” Schuettler told the Planning Commission members.
Planning Commission member Sonja Culler made a motion to approve the plans, which was seconded by Planning Commission member Ken Arney.
The motion passed with nine votes in favor with no dissenting votes. Planning Commission member Steve Pierce abstained from voting on the matter.
Carter County Codes Enforcement Officer Mel McKay gave a report to the Planning Commission members regarding progress made on some properties which had been in violation of the litter ordinance.
Planning Commission Chairman Jerry Pearman told McKay and Schuettler he had received several phone calls with complaints regarding a property in the Lovers Lane area. Planning Commission member Robert Carroll said he had also received complaints on the property.
County Commissioner John Lewis, who is not a member of the Planning Commission but was in attendance at Tuesday meeting, said he had received complaints regarding a property in Hampton near a local store there.
Schuettler said he and his staff were aware of the issues at those properties and had been working with the property owners for some time.
Lewis asked if there was some sort of time frame which the property owners had to follow to have the property cleaned up. Schuettler and Pearman explained there was a timeline in place but once cleanup efforts began and reached a certain point the timeline would restart if the property returned to being out of compliance with the litter ordinance.
“They will clean up some, and sometimes they will actually get into compliance, but then they fall back out,” Schuettler said.
One option to help combat the issue of problem properties would be adopting stricter regulations that give the codes enforcement officer more authority regarding violations, Schuettler said.
“We, as a Commission, can once again push for the adoption of the International Property Maintenance Codes,” Schuettler said.
Another hurdle for codes enforcement in the county is the fact as Codes Enforcement Officer position is currently classified as a “part time” position, which means McKay is limited in the number of hours he can work per week.
During the budget cycle, Schuettler asked the Carter County Budget Committee to add enough funds to his budget to make the codes enforcement officer position a full time position. That request failed to pass the budget committee when the group split on the vote with four in favor and four against. Committee Chairwoman Sonja Culler was joined by committee members Buford Peters, L.C. Tester and Ross Garland in supporting the request to make the codes enforcement officer full time while committee members Nancy Brown, Ronnie Trivett, John Lewis and Robert Carroll opposed the motion.
In other matters, Hampton resident Barbara Moffitt approached the Planning Commission with a plea to grant her request to create a mobile home park on her property, located off of Rittertown Road. She said other property owners had their requests to create mobile home parks granted but hers had been denied several times.
Moffitt accused some members of the Planning Commission and Schuettler of doing favors for friends while ignoring the requests of others for help. She said she has made many improvements to her property and wants to add four more mobile homes to it.
Schuettler told members of the Planning Commission there were issues which had prevented Moffitt’s request from being granted. The property is zoned A1 as agricultural use. The property zoning allows for a “rural mobile home park” but only permits three mobile homes to be placed on a single parcel of land. Schuettler said a previous review of the property ruled her double-wide modular home was a mobile home and not a stick built home. With Moffitt’s double-wide and two other mobile homes already located on the property, Schuettler said the property already has the maximum number of mobile homes allowed under the property’s zoning.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, who serves on the Planning Commission, said Schuettler should walk Moffitt through the process to research the issue and give her “a definitive answer” as to whether or not her request can be granted.

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